Mid-May Starting Pitcher Rankings Update

I promised an update to the May rankings and it’s here! When ranking 125+ players (130 last time, down to 125 here), I obviously don’t have up-to-minute stats and performance memorized on everyone so while I felt pretty good about the groupings everyone was in, there were some individual rankings that needed work. I also added another tier at the top for the stone cold fantasy aces. It’s a tight group, but it gets them separation from the must-starts because I think people still bug out when seeing Chris Sale and Tyson Ross in the same tier and I understand that.

I do think the Must-Start tier is important, though, because one of the unintended consequences of the information age for fantasy baseball is the overwhelming desire to see every start as actionable. Some guys you just have to start through the ebbs and flows of a season, even after a few clunky starts. Not every bad start is the beginning of the end for a pitcher. Conversely, every gem from some 4th or 5th starter isn’t the emergence of a new stud.

I can’t imagine it’d really be possible to do, but I’d love to see a study on team ERAs in fantasy pre- and post-internet. I’m sure pre-internet saw established guys given a longer leash as there were often weeks in between updates (the first fantasy league I was ever in started in 1989 and ran stats every other week) and similar time periods between pickups. Anyway, here’s the update! As always, heed the tier over the # ranking and let me know what you think in the comments down below!

The tiers are as follows:

#1s (13 SPs) – The true aces of fantasy baseball.

Must Start (22 SPs) – Should be pretty obvious, but these are the guys who always start. Again, it isn’t just the very best guys. There are second and third tier arms in terms of market value that I’d start every time out. They don’t have an obvious split or weakness that would give you a better chance at picking off their poor starts. Some of them are “No Coors Field”-types, but it’s predominantly set it and forget it.

Usually Start (20 SPs) – If “No Coors Field” is 30% with the MS group, it’s more like 60-70% with this group. You need to find a reason to sit them right now in most formats. You might feel like you can spot them properly, but we’re just not that precise in identifying when a solid arm will falter. These guys are good enough to thwart any opponent even on something less than their best day or they could get smacked by a weaker opponent. If you’re rostering them, you should probably be starting them.

Spot Start (50 SPs) – Flawed talents. A lot of these guys are on the cusp of or have been in the Usually Start tier, but currently you’re looking to curate their starts a bit where you can. These guys might also be US tier arms here temporarily. Pay very close attention to gamelogs of pitchers, get a feel for how they arrived at their bottom line numbers. Not all ERAs are created equally and that’s why it’s not a gauge for future production, especially in small samples.

Could Start (20 SPs) – I know many of you are dealing with some brutal pitching staff conditions right now after drafting a rotation you thought would be a strength, so you might find yourself in this tier a little more than you’d like. There is some talent to be plucked and the right two-start week could really set you up. This is essentially the Spot Star tier for single leagues or super-deep mixers (16+ teams).

Don’t Start (24 SPs) – You don’t want to be here. This is when you start looking at middle relievers as the better option. You’ll see what I mean.

Injured (21 SPs) – I find it hard/worthless to rank injured guys. I just think the outlook on injured players varies so much person-to-person that you can’t really use an injured player’s ranking for anything. I will identify the tier I’d put the injured guy in when healthy, though.

Minors (9 SPs) – These guys aren’t in the majors. You needed that explanation, didn’t you?

Please leave your questions and comments below!

Mid-May SP Ranking Update
1 Max Scherzer #1 NL WAS
2 Justin Verlander #1 AL HOU
3 Chris Sale #1 AL BOS
4 Corey Kluber #1 AL CLE
5 Noah Syndergaard #1 NL NYM
6 Gerrit Cole #1 AL HOU
7 Luis Severino #1 AL NYY
8 Jacob deGrom #1 NL NYM
9 Stephen Strasburg #1 NL WAS
10 Aaron Nola #1 NL PHI
11 James Paxton #1 AL SEA
12 Carlos Carrasco #1 AL CLE
13 Zack Greinke #1 NL ARI
14 Charlie Morton MS AL HOU
15 Patrick Corbin MS NL ARI
16 Trevor Bauer MS AL CLE
17 Lance McCullers MS AL HOU
18 Blake Snell MS AL TB
19 Shohei Ohtani MS AL LAA
20 Dallas Keuchel MS AL HOU
21 Jose Berrios MS AL MIN
22 Sean Manaea MS AL OAK
23 Garrett Richards MS AL LAA
24 Masahiro Tanaka MS AL NYY
25 J.A. Happ MS AL TOR
26 Mike Clevinger MS AL CLE
27 Michael Fulmer MS AL DET
28 Rick Porcello MS AL BOS
29 Tyson Ross MS NL SD
30 Zack Godley MS NL ARI
31 Jose Quintana MS NL CHC
32 Chris Archer MS AL TB
33 Yu Darvish MS NL CHC
34 Alex Wood MS NL LAD
35 Kyle Hendricks MS NL CHC
36 Tanner Roark US NL WAS
37 Gio Gonzalez US NL WAS
38 Dylan Bundy US AL BAL
39 Luis Castillo US NL CIN
40 Miles Mikolas US NL STL
41 David Price US AL BOS
42 Jon Lester US NL CHC
43 Tyler Skaggs US AL LAA
44 Nick Pivetta US NL PHI
45 Sean Newcomb US NL ATL
46 Trevor Cahill US AL OAK
47 Andrew Heaney US AL LAA
48 Junior Guerra US NL MIL
49 Kenta Maeda US NL LAD
50 Jake Arrieta US NL PHI
51 Jameson Taillon US NL PIT
52 Walker Buehler US NL LAD
53 Julio Teheran US NL ATL
54 Michael Wacha US NL STL
55 Caleb Smith US NL MIA
56 Fernando Romero SS AL MIN
57 Kyle Gibson SS AL MIN
58 Jon Gray SS NL COL
59 Kevin Gausman SS AL BAL
60 Mike Foltynewicz SS NL ATL
61 Cole Hamels SS AL TEX
62 Aaron Sanchez SS AL TOR
63 Luke Weaver SS NL STL
64 Jakob Junis SS AL KC
65 Eduardo Rodriguez SS AL BOS
66 Jake Odorizzi SS AL MIN
67 Nick Kingham SS NL PIT
68 Sonny Gray SS AL NYY
69 Jake Faria SS AL TB
70 Jeff Samardzija SS NL SF
71 Jack Flaherty SS NL STL
72 Marco Estrada SS AL TOR
73 Tyler Chatwood SS NL CHC
74 Tyler Mahle SS NL CIN
75 Lance Lynn SS AL MIN
76 Tyler Anderson SS NL COL
77 CC Sabathia SS AL NYY
78 Joey Lucchesi-DL’d SS NL SD
79 Chris Stratton SS NL SF
80 Kyle Freeland SS NL COL
81 Michael Soroka – DL’d 5/17 SS NL ATL
82 Chase Anderson SS NL MIL
83 German Marquez SS NL COL
84 Mike Minor SS AL TEX
85 Drew Pomeranz SS AL BOS
86 Freddy Peralta SS NL MIL
87 Jose Urena SS NL MIA
88 Ian Kennedy SS AL KC
89 Dan Straily SS NL MIA
90 Vince Velasquez SS NL PHI
91 Andrew Triggs SS AL OAK
92 Daniel Mengden SS AL OAK
93 Trevor Williams SS NL PIT
94 Domingo German SS AL NYY
95 Zack Wheeler SS NL NYM
96 Danny Duffy SS AL KC
97 Mike Leake SS AL SEA
98 Francisco Liriano SS AL DET
99 Jeremy Hellickson SS NL WAS
100 Ryan Yarbrough SS AL TB
101 Ivan Nova SS NL PIT
102 Zach Eflin SS NL PHI
103 Jordan Lyles SS NL SD
104 Ross Stripling SS NL LAD
105 Matt Boyd SS AL DET
106 Bartolo Colon CS AL TEX
107 Brandon McCarthy CS NL ATL
108 Clayton Richard CS NL SD
109 Steven Matz CS NL NYM
110 Chad Bettis CS NL COL
111 Chad Kuhl CS NL PIT
112 Felix Hernandez CS AL SEA
113 Matt Koch CS NL ARI
114 Zach Davies CS NL MIL
115 Anthony Banda CS AL TB
116 Marco Gonzales CS AL SEA
117 Jhoulys Chacin CS NL MIL
118 Mike Fiers CS AL DET
119 Wei-Yin Chen CS NL MIA
120 Wade LeBlanc CS AL SEA
121 Reynaldo Lopez CS AL CWS
122 Alex Cobb CS AL BAL
123 Max Fried CS NL ATL
124 Brent Suter CS NL MIL
125 Doug Fister CS AL TEX
NR Clayton Kershaw IN/#1 NL LAD
NR Madison Bumgarner IN/#1 NL SF
NR Carlos Martinez IN/#1 NL STL
NR Johnny Cueto IN/#1 NL SF
NR Robbie Ray IN/MS NL ARI
NR Ervin Santana IN/MS AL MIN
NR Jimmy Nelson IN/MS NL MIL
NR Danny Salazar IN/US AL CLE
NR Alex Reyes IN/US NL STL
NR Matt Shoemaker IN/US AL LAA
NR Jordan Montgomery IN/US AL NYY
NR Hyun Jin Ryu IN/US NL LAD
NR Nick Tropeano IN/US AL LAA
NR Marcus Stroman IN/SS AL TOR
NR Joe Musgrove IN/SS NL STL
NR Yonny Chirinos IN/SS NL PIT
NR Steven Wright IN/SS AL BOS
NR Adam Wainwright IN/CS NL STL
NR Miguel Gonzalez IN/CS AL CWS
NR Martin Perez IN/CS AL TEX
NR Jarlin Garcia DS NL MIA
NR Jason Hammel DS AL KC
NR Lucas Giolito DS AL CWS
NR Kendall Graveman DS AL OAK
NR Ty Blach DS NL SF
NR Andrew Cashner DS AL BAL
NR Jaime Garcia DS AL TOR
NR Homer Bailey DS NL CIN
NR Sal Romano DS NL CIN
NR Chris Tillman DS AL BAL
NR Ryan Carpenter DS AL DET
NR Carson Fulmer DS AL CWS
NR Jason Vargas DS NL NYM
NR James Shields DS AL CWS
NR Josh Tomlin DS AL CLE
NR Eric Skoglund DS AL KC
NR Phil Hughes DS AL MIN
NR Matt Moore DS AL TEX
NR Dillon Peters DS NL MIA
NR Kris Medlen DS NL ARI
NR Derek Holland DS NL SF
NR Brandon Finnegan DS NL CIN
NR Hector Santiago DS AL CWS
NR Bryan Mitchell DS NL SD
NR Michael Kopech RK AL CWS
NR Jalen Beeks RK AL BOS
NR Shane Bieber RK AL CLE
NR Mitch Keller RK NL PIT
NR Luiz Gohara RK NL ATL
NR Matt Wisler RK NL ATL
NR Justus Sheffield RK AL NYY
NR Dillon Tate RK AL NYY
NR Austin Voth RK NL WAS

We hoped you liked reading Mid-May Starting Pitcher Rankings Update by Paul Sporer!

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Paul is the Editor of Rotographs and contributes to ESPN's Daily Notes. Follow Paul on Twitter @sporer and on Twitch at sporer.

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What about Brandon Woodruff? He’s just outside the FG top 100 prospects currently. He has struggled and is going back and forth between the rotation and bullpen, but is he worth owning in case he turns things around for dynasty purposes?